Fluoride has been a controversial subject for many. However, the benefits of fluoride are well known as studies have shown fluoridation of community water has reduced tooth decay by at least 25%. Beyond our drinking water fluoride supplements are also available. For pregnant women, it is important to consider what is ingested to keep the baby and the mother healthy during this critical time.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and community water supplies contain fluoride.
How Does Fluoride Work To Prevent Tooth Decay?
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:
1. Fluoride concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they erupt.
2. Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already erupted.
Fluoride works during the natural process of building up (remineralization) and breaking down (demineralization) the enamel of our teeth.
-After eating a meal, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization (dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface).
-At other times during the day when your saliva is less acidic, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent breakdown during the next demineralization period.
Is It Safe For Women To Take Fluoride Supplements During Pregnancy?
NO! Currently there is no evidence to show any benefit to the developing baby’s teeth. In fact they can be hazardous to the baby’s developing teeth. Fluoride supplements can cause the the placenta and be ingested by the baby possibly leading to dental fluorosis (is a developmental disturbance of dental enamel caused by excessive exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during tooth development).
While fluoride supplements should be avoided during pregnancy they serve a positive purpose the rest of our lives. Whether it is through drinking community water, brushing our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, and through fluoride supplements provided by your dentist.